Recently I checked a Mother Goose collection out of the library, My Mother Goose by David McPhail. I’m not sure why since we already own several nursery rhyme collections. But I like looking at new anthologies. This one had an attractive cover and size and shape and when I flipped it open I saw a favorite verse that isn’t included in any of the anthologies we read most frequently. Impulsively I added it to my already towering stack.
The very last poem in the collection is a new one to me. It’s a little sentimental. Not the kind of poem that is likely to become a favorite, even though I approve of the sentiment. But when I read it to the children I noticed a thoughtful look on Ben’s face. He was pondering the poem, I could tell.
I love you well,
My little brother,
And you are fond of me;
Let us be kind to one another,
As brothers ought to be.
You shall learn to play with me,
And you can use my toys;
And then I think that we shall be
Two happy little boys.
I read this poem to the children at storytime. While I was cooking dinner I watched Anthony and Lucy carry every blanket and stuffed animal and pillow they had from their beds to the office where they were piling them on the futon. I knew there was a tantrum in my future when I asked them to put everything away, but they were playing so happily together that I let it go.
As it turned out I didn’t even get to ask Anthony to put them away. He retired to his bed immediately after dinner and refused to budge. he was too tired, he said. Later that night Ben was being terribly nice to Anthony. He carried all the toys and blankets Anthony had brought to the office and been too tired to retrieve. He spread Anthony’s blankets over him. He kissed Anthony and hugged him and said I love you. He was so gentle and sweet and loving.
Anthony isn’t always easy to get along with and Ben tends to be very close. He is effusive with me and Lucy and my sister, “Auntie Treese.” With everyone else… well, he loves them. But he doesn’t always like Anthony very much. Or Sophie or Bella.
And I get it. It’s understandable. Big sisters can be bossy. Little brothers can be a bother and don’t know how to play properly. Ben’s stuck in the middle and doesn’t always like it. They can be loud and disruptive, unruly and intrusive. He’d prefer quiet and order and they bring chaos and fuss.
So I was certain that the poem had touched his heart, melted him just a little. Inspired him to be kind to Anthony.